A Maryland man has become the first person believed to have traveled the 203-mile length of the Chesapeake Bay on a standup paddleboard.

Chris Hopkinson of Arnold, MD, completed the journey from Havre de Grace, MD, to Fisherman’s Inlet, VA, in nine days. He was greeted at the end of his grueling trip at the Atlantic Ocean on Saturday, Sept. 26, by a boat full of friends, family, and supporters.

Hopkinson, a 46-year-old chief strategy officer for a mobile communications app, used the expedition to raise money for the Oyster Recovery Partnership, a Maryland-based nonprofit that supports efforts to restore oyster reefs in the Bay. As of the month’s end, the fundraiser had amassed $177,000 toward its $200,000 goal, a total that would cover planting 20 million oysters.

“I am truly overwhelmed by the response to the Bay Paddle,” he said. “The most emotional part wasn’t finishing or any one stage or day. It was the amount of support and encouragement from our entire community.”

Punishing northeast winds forced a last-minute change in his route, switching from a paddle down the western shore to the eastern shore. He also battled blisters, rough seas, a sunburn, and muscle soreness.

For more information about the trip or how to give, visit baypaddle.org.

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